backtop


Print 31 comment(s) - last by OLPCXOMAN.. on Nov 1 at 4:02 PM

Government program distributes laptops to almost 400,000 students

Computer literacy is an important aspect of education, but may seem out of reach for many people around the world due to hardware costs. The OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project has sought to develop and distribute a low-cost and rugged computer to children around the world in a bid to raise global standards of living. That includes children living in poverty in the United States.

The government of Uruguay was very enthusiastic about the project, and created "Plan Ceibal" (Education Connect) to fund and distribute XO-1 OLPC laptops to every state-funded elementary school in the country.  Uruguay was the first country to place a full order for XO-1 laptops, with an initial 100,000 order in October 2007. It was also the first to deploy them in a non-pilot project just two months later.

Over the last two years, 18,000 teachers have distributed 380,000 laptops to every student between the ages of six and twelve. Approximately 70% of the XO-1 laptops handed out by the government were given to children who did not have computers at home.

The original goal of the OLPC project was to develop a $100 laptop, but that proved out of reach. The government of Uruguay states that it has spent $260 per child, which includes the costs of maintenance, equipment repairs, training for the teachers and internet connections. Annual maintenance costs are around $21 per child.

Uruguay was the first country in Latin America to provide free compulsory schooling for its population, and believes that participation in the OLPC project will help to raise standards of living even more quickly. The total cost so far represents less than 5% of the country's education budget.

"This is not simply the handing out of laptops or an education program. It is a program which seeks to reduce the gap between the digital world and the world of knowledge," stated Miguel Brechner, the director of Plan Ceibal.

The laptops in Uruguay use the Linux operating system with a user interface named "Sugar". Detractors have criticized the lack of a Windows operating system, stating that it is needed in order to created marketable computer skills. However, Windows has only been available in XO-1 laptops since late last year.

Insufficient electrical and internet infrastructure are just some of the challenges that Project Ceibal has faced. Some rural areas have required the deployment of solar power generators, while other areas still lack Internet connections. The situation is similar in other countries like Peru, which has deployed almost 300,000 XO-1 laptops.

Those aren't the only problems facing students eager to use their computers. Insufficient teacher education has meant that some students are learning to use computers at the same time as their teachers. The government training program only takes a single day to complete. Some older teachers have shunned the laptops, preferring to stick to older methods of teaching rather than appearing incompetent in front of their pupils.

That may explain why other countries have been hesitant to adopt OLPC laptops in large scale national programs. Only Uruguay, Peru, Columbia, India, and Rwanda have or are planning OLPC adoption programs to more than 100,000 students. However, there are smaller scale or pilot projects in more than two dozen countries.

"It's a culture shock scenario; many countries are simply too scared to put it into practice," explains Brechner.

Since every primary school student now has a laptop, the government of Uruguay is now considering an expansion program to include children in kindergarten and those in secondary schools that do not yet have a laptop.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

WHY do they need notebooks?
By icanhascpu on 10/19/2009 7:29:16 PM , Rating: -1
I can see 2 months from now the news: Every Elementary Student in Uruguay mugged and robbed of their cheap laptop.

Then you might say "well they are kept safe at school". And then Ill say why the hell is the point then. You could of set up a powerful i7 server system and a bunch of terminals and had a not-retarded-os running with much better flexibility on the software and hardware end.

What happeneds when these things start to die or ware down? The cost of repair is going to be nearly as much or more than the thing is worth!




RE: WHY do they need notebooks?
By Pakman333 on 10/19/2009 8:47:48 PM , Rating: 2
They already have them for two years.


RE: WHY do they need notebooks?
By GreenEnvt on 10/19/2009 10:12:35 PM , Rating: 2
that and the fact that maintenance is included anyway.
Some people read the article title and go off on a rant without reading the whole thing.


RE: WHY do they need notebooks?
By Amiga500 on 10/20/2009 4:22:47 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
You could of set up a powerful i7 server system and a bunch of terminals and had a not-retarded-os running with much better flexibility on the software and hardware end.


Then you have to buy and install the network...

By that I mean power lines, network cables, switches... everything needed for a modern network. You also have to do this in buildings plainly unsuited for the task, making reliability an additional large problem.


"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki